Do you know the archetype?

8 April 2019

Do you know the archetype?

You have probably heard of archetypes before, but did you know that modern archetypes can also be an effective tool when working with branding? Read Thomas Wagner’s introduction here.


The vast majority of decisions that we humans take are based on emotions. The emotions govern us. We all know it. It is hard to put our own feelings into words. It is not easier to describe the emotional drivers for customers who buy your brand. Try to read Daniel Kahneman’s book about it – the modern classic “Thinking Fast and Slow”. You will rarely find a book with that many words and in such a small print on each side in a Nobel Prize-winning attempt to describe how our brains behave e.g. in various decision moments.

But worry not – because there is light at the end of the tunnel. A report by Bain Consulting (Harvard Business Review, August 2016) has even quantified it. The report showed that brands that understand how to work with the E (Emotions) grow four times faster on average. Such a number is hard to ignore. So, the next natural question is how to create a strong brand by addressing the right emotions. And this is where the modern archetypes come in.

The modern archetypes

The modern archetypes are an evolution of Jung’s archetype theory. In short, the idea is that there are universal, empty forms channelling experiences and emotions that result in recognisable and typical behavioural patterns with some likely outcomes. In other words, there are rules in our brains that govern why “brand A is just my thing.”

Fast forward to InterMail today. We use archetypes when we work with brands. Overall, we operate with 12 different modern archetypes, which can in turn be divided into four groups – based on what drives them. See the figure below:

The archetypes can be used to describe us as people – how we are different and how we look at the world differently – and in this way, they give us knowledge about how we stimulate the emotional part of our audience’s brain. And thus, the archetypes can also be used to describe and develop brands.

The brand and its core customers must match

We have run archetype analyses on very large, global brands. When a brand loses market shares, a major reason may be that the brand has begun to communicate differently than the way its core customers – brand lovers – like them to. Then brand lovers start to find alternatives that “speak more to me.”

Sometimes, we have seen that brand managers rather communicate themselves and what they themselves think is cool. If a brand manager has the same archetype profile as the brand lovers, it is the equivalent of the brand manager having a “nose” for what is the best thing to do. And if so, that sure is fortunate. But similarly, it is very unfortunate if the opposite is true.

If you want to learn a bit more about yourself, try to take our archetype test to see which psychological archetypes best describe you – it only takes about 5 minutes to complete.

Learn more about the modern archetypes – and how to apply them in your marketing

Please feel free to contact me, if you are faced with a specific task where it makes sense to talk about archetypes. My experience says that it does surprisingly often.

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